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Waste disposal regulations for businesses

Private Waste Collection

Businesses produce waste, and because of that fact, your business has a legal responsibility to deal with it safely. Whether that’s throwing things away, sorting waste, transporting it yourself or anything else, there are rules that you should be up to date on if you’d rather avoid any unwanted fees. There are steps that you have to take if you want to make sure that you’re dealing with waste correctly, but don’t worry, it isn’t too complicated. Waste management companies handle a lot of these, but it’s good to know where your money is going, and whether it’s going to businesses that are managing it safely.

Breaking the laws and procedures that the government have set out could leave you facing anything from a fine to prison time, and that’s why it’s important to make sure you choose the right company. You can do a free price comparison here, where we calculate the cheapest price for your needs from our database of trusted, fully-certified suppliers:

In the meantime, you can learn about what you need to do, and what your waste collection supplier needs to do below.

What counts as business waste?

Any byproduct that comes from any commercial activity is classified as business waste. If you work from home, the waste created in your working area is business waste too. Business waste also includes any waste that comes from:

  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Industry
  • Agriculture

Commercial waste can be anything, but hazardous waste is something you should know you produce in advance due to the legal differences. This includes:

  • Asbestos
  • Chemicals, such as brake fluid or print toner
  • Batteries
  • Solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Oils (except edible ones), such as car oil
  • Equipment containing ozone depleting substances, like fridges
  • Hazardous waste containers

What are my responsibilities?

As a business that doesn’t transport or process waste, you have responsibilities that are a lot less strict. A lot of it is common sense, but here is the government’s official list:

General Waste/ Recycling

  • Try to keep waste to a minimum. The government uses a waste hierarchy (prevent, reuse, recycle, recover) to help people know what they should try to do with their waste before throwing it out.
  • Be safe and sensible when sorting or storing waste. We explain this below.
  • Complete a waste transfer note each time waste leaves your premises (you’ll usually be given this).
  • Make sure your waste carrier can legally dispose of waste.
  • If your waste is disposed of illegally, report them to Crimestoppers.

Hazardous waste

  • Classify your waste to make sure it’s hazardous. Find out how to do this here.
  • Separate and store this waste safely.
  • Make sure that your waste collection supplier is registered, and their waste sites have environmental permits.
  • Fill in a consignment note to the best of your ability, keep a copy and give 2 to the carrier.
  • Keep a record/register for 3 years at the premises that made or stored the waste.


Electrical waste (WEEE) is  any electrical item that can be plugged in or that uses a battery, including household appliances and tools. These contain hazardous materials too, so you must:

  • Store less than 80 cubic meters of WEEE, or under 50 if this waste includes mercury or fluorescent tubes.
  • Keep the waste for no longer than 3 months before contacting a licensed carrier for disposal.
  • Keep the waste in weatherproof containers marked with the crossed-out wheelie bin symbol, which is shown below.

Animal By-Products

If your business produces animal by-products (animal product not intended for human consumption, e.g. manure or bones), it must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency. For this, a business owner has to:

  • Keep different types of animal by-products separate to avoid contamination.
  • Keep the waste in airtight, labelled containers.
  • Contact a licensed carrier for disposal in a timely manner to reduce health risks.

What documents do I need?

Waste Transfer note

A waste transfer note is a short document that needs to be filled out every time a waste carrier takes your business’s waste. It explains:

  • What the waste is
  • The weight of it
  • How it’s contained
  • The place and date of the collection

This is filled out by you and the waste carrier. You must keep a copy of every waste transfer note for at least 2 years, in case they need to be shown to your local council or Environment Agency.


Consignment note

Whenever hazardous waste is disposed of, a consignment note covers its journey to its final destination. It is similar to the waste transfer note, and explains what waste is being transported. It must be correctly completed by you, and you must keep a record of it for at least 2 years after the collection.


Commercial note

All transport of animal by-product (except manure) must have a commercial note. Again, it keeps a record of what the animal waste is, the origin and quantity of it, as well as the location and collection time. You must keep a copy of every commercial note for at least 2 years.


What is “safe” sorting and storing?

This may seem a little open to interpretation, but here’s the biggest things to follow:

Sorting Waste

Make sure to separate waste into clearly-labelled containers, and keep different types of waste separate. Waste contamination often forces the sorting plant to throw out the whole load of waste, including general waste that’s been thrown into the recycling bin.


Storing Waste

Storing waste safely is pretty simple. Keep waste in a secure location on your business premises, preferably a bin store to prevent waste blowing away. The bin should only be out of this storage space on collection day. Make sure the bin is a good size, and leave the lid on for the same reason. You should also invest in a waterproof cover, so contaminated waste-water doesn’t run down the street.


Penalty Charges for Failure to Comply With Regulations

If your business doesn’t follow these rules, you can face anything between a fine and prison time. It’s essential that you take your Duty of Care seriously, and make sure you follow all of the procedures above, because the penalties are harsh. Below are the charges you can face:

For a Duty of Care offence, the fines can range from £300-£5,000, depending on the offence, and can range from contaminating waste to willingly working with an illegal waste carrier.

For a bin offence, e.g. leaving a bin in the wrong area, the fines can range from £110-£1,000.

Failure to produce a waste transfer note can set you back £300-£5,000 depending on how much waste is unaccounted for.

Fly-tipping is punished with anything between a £400 fixed penalty notice, and prosecution with an unlimited fine and up to 5 years’ imprisonment.

Need to find the right waste management company? helps you find and compare the best products and services from 100’s of approved suppliers.

We have thousands of happy customers nationwide and fully understand the need for small and medium size businesses to keep costs under control.

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